Ya know, a lot of times when you tell someone that you listen to extreme music - they make assumptions. Mention death and black metal and they say things like "are you violent?" Couldn't be further from the truth. Though we not pushover pacifists, most of us here at BDSC are big teddy bears 99% of the time. But still, the stereotype persists.
Luckily, a lot of research has been done on music and what its means to listener, and what draws that kind of listener. Professor Bill Thompson from Macquarie University in Australia has done decades of research on the emotional effects of music and is setting the record straight:
"[Death metal] fans are nice people," adding "They're not going to go out and hurt someone."
Another assumption is that death metal fans are desensitized to violent images, which the Professor disagrees with. He says that death metal fans are very much like any music listener - seeking out songs which illicit unhappy feelings. That might sound strange, but humans are drawn to music bring out the sadness.
"Many people enjoy sad music, and that's a bit of a paradox," he said. "Why would we want to make ourselves sad? The same can be said of music with aggressive or violent themes. For us, it's a psychological paradox — so [as scientists] we're curious, and at the same time we recognize that violence in the media is a socially significant issue."
By studying the reactions of 32 pop music and 48 death metal fans while listening to music from their respective genre of choice, then showing them violent images during the music listening session, Thompson found that they all reacted in a similar way to violent images.
"If fans of violent music were desensitized to violence, which is what a lot of parent groups, religious groups and censorship boards are worried about, then they wouldn't show this same bias." In other words, the reactions were the same for both groups.
So it seems that people gravitate towards music that is the opposite of what they really feel internally - proving our point that death metal fans are big ole teddy bears. Now that guy at work who listens to elevator music - he might be the killer.
What do you think? Does listening to Death Metal make you feel more violent?